For God’s sake Mitch, we should listen to Schumer and admit it’s a lot of tactical posturing as you yourself have recently said in an interview with the Washington Examiner where you justified your tactics on Garland’s nomination:

I said I … think the president’s going to send up a well-qualified liberal, you know he’s going to do that. I don’t think we ought to have hearings, or act on it because if the point is, who ought to make the nomination, then the issue of the nominee is irrelevant. And of course subsequently the president did send up a well-qualified person who would have moved the court to the left. But it wasn’t about Merrick Garland it was about who ought to make the appointment.

Sorry, of course it was about Merrick Garland who would indeed have moved the court to the left. The upcoming presidential elections was the perfect excuse to hold off and delay and hope that Hillary wouldn’t be elected president; that somehow Trump would win. A hope that grew stronger when later that summer of 2016 Trump issued his list of conservative judges he would consider in order to fill Scalia’s seat.

No one could accuse with any reasonable justification that the judges in that list were not well-qualified jurists. That’s. Not. The. Point. Who anymore possibly believes in a neutral, wise Leviathan-like judiciary? Let’s agree it’s hypocritical to not delay a vote on Kennedy’s replacement, but it’s a justifiable tactic that Democrats would have used and will use at some point in the future.

There may be exceptions and surprises in a Justice’s rulings. There almost always are. But please don’t tell me that it was impossible to predict the difference between Merrick Garland as the latest Justice, compared to a conservative like Gorsuch.

So, McConnell’s shtick about who should get to indirectly advise and consent – the voters who elect enough Senators in any given election to perhaps tip the balance in the Senate towards or against conservative or liberal or someday God forbid, rabidly progressive Justices – being more important than the nominee is nonsense, and the Majority Leader knows it.

But it’s also almost certainly the Senate’s biggest responsibility and leverage, advising and especially consenting to a President’s nomination for Justice of the Supreme Court. So, in honor of the upper chamber’s recondite and labyrinth-like rules, a little tic tac toe on the part of the Majority Leader is hardly surprising. But is it truly necessary? To pretend that this is about searching for the best Justice when nowadays almost any nominee is highly regarded, capable, and experienced?

Here’s another former senator, the late Charles Mathias who represented Maryland from 1969 to 1987, in an essay back a few years ago:

An independent judiciary demands that the nominee present no platform, expound no particular ideology, represent no constituency, and submit to no political litmus test. It also demands that those who nominate and appoint judges do not seek simply to affirm and perpetuate their political viewpoint in their nominations and appointments. A judge must take his seat on the bench confident that he is not expected to decide cases in any particular way because of the views of the leaders of either of the other two branches. Instead, he must emerge from the nomination process knowing that the president and Senate have confidence that he will preside with only one unalterable loyalty, to the Constitution, and with only one purpose, to assure the individual standing before him a judgment based upon the law of the land.

Do you believe that? In a political climate where to claim loyalty to the constitution is itself seen as a radical right-wing position? And if, like most people nowadays, you don’t believe Senator Mathias’ words, is that an argument for an even more independent judiciary? Or an argument for leaving aside the competence – unless a nominee is somehow truly second rate, intellectually and in terms of experience – and being honest about the partisan brawl that any Supreme Court nominee provokes in the Senate?

Alexander Hamilton split the nomination of Supreme Court Justices between the President’s power of nomination and the Senate’s advice and (especially) consent. Given the power of the judiciary over details of our lives like wedding cakes and trans students right to opposite sex bathrooms – perhaps the founders indeed could have imagined such things, but we will never know of course – Senator Mathias’ words seem quaint, or hypocritical.

But interestingly Mathias himself in his essay refers to Scalia’s unanimous approval at the hands of the Senate, despite – as Mathias seems to hint – Scalia’s ideological positions. Scalia’s intellect, capacity and character meant there was no way Senators could not consent to his appointment to the Supreme Court. Is something like that still possible?

It seems the Senate merely pays lip service to those qualities and then uses the process of advice and consent as a political stage, a media-frenzy theatre, to undercut or build up the nominee’s image, all because of strictly partisan reasons. Sticking with Maryland, imagine if the nominee is Brett Kavanaugh, a former Kenneth Starr aide and apparent protégé. Does anyone think that Senators like Schumer will question his competence? Or instead attack his record and his philosophy? The D.C. district judge, raised in Bethesda, clerked for Kennedy before also working for then Solicitor General Kenneth Starr on the Whitewater investigation.

His bona fides are impeccable. But that’s not the point of Senate consent in today’s world. It’s how Kavanaugh would vote on overturning Roe v Wade, for example. We’re in a cultural war. Should Supreme Court nominations be exempt? That’s not an easy question to answer. But it has to be asked at least.

There’s a third option on immigration that’s oddly being forgotten by the GOP as the House leadership desperately tries to tweak the compromise bill which for now seems to be the first option, (the second option being Goodlatte’s more rigorous legislation which failed last week).

Byron York last Thursday in the Washington Examiner reminded us all of that option: build a wall. The one that then-candidate Trump repeated so often that it became a part of the liturgy of his campaign rallies. Not a wall along every mile of the southern border, but one that covered a fairly large part of the terrain that is crossed daily by thousands or hundreds of illegals trying to gain a foothold in America.

York’s reminder is really a warning for the President himself and his administration. If anyone has been on the ground doing the footwork that any reliable and thoughtful journalist should be doing, it’s Byron York. And he rightly points out that if Trump punts on this issue until after the mid-terms – as his latest tweets to the House GOP to move on from immigration until after the elections certainly suggests – then what does he do if the GOP loses the House or loses a large part of their majority? Or even loses the Senate? And even if they don’t, can any compromise immigration bill survive the deep divisions within the GOP, never mind Democrat obstruction on an issue they have decided to use as a wedge to placate their base and somehow draw independents back towards them?

Trump had a chance this past winter, but he and the GOP let it slip by trying to include too much in the bill. Maybe a DACA for Border Wall simple trade-off might have worked. Maybe. Here’s Byron York:

The only way a wall will ever happen is with determined presidential leadership. Yes, Congress has supported extensive border barriers in the past — look up the Secure Fence Act of 2006 — but the political system has never wanted to actually do it. Actually building a wall would take a president who will not give up and not settle for anything less than what he promised.

Incredibly enough, Trump made it to 2018 with a real chance to get wall funding. His maneuvers on DACA, President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, set up a simple and obvious deal: legalization of DACA recipients in exchange for money for the wall.

… But Trump and Republicans in Congress always threw other issues into the mix. Chain migration. The visa lottery. Guest workers. Now, the hot issue of the moment is family separation. Whatever the specific add-ons, a clean DACA-for-wall deal morphed into a sort of lite version of comprehensive immigration reform, which is an endeavor that has a long record of failure in Washington.

As York suggests, the President is running out of time to get his wall built. He may somehow be presented with one more chance to get it done in Congress, but the surprise factor that was initially in place is now long gone. Democrats will counter-punch and delay and activists will use the courts to tie up any proposal should it actually get passed.

And at this point, it seems the House GOP will try to settle on some slimmed-down piece of legislation which essentially undoes family separation, and little else. With nary a wall in sight.

Will base voters forgive President Trump for failing to build a wall? Will that factor into the intensity of the mid-terms themselves? Or will it be more of a question in the 2020 presidential elections? Amid the noise and fury of the full-on cultural wars, this is an issue that will resonate in November; both this coming November and in November, 2020.

Someone’s going to resurrect the grisly facts on the Lindbergh kidnapping in order to suggest that because of Phillip Roth’s The Plot Against America, and Charles Lindbergh’s support for the anti-war America First Committee, somehow the famous aviator deserved that horrifying fate.

Because right now, the Trump family must feel just a little like the Lindbergh’s back in the 30’s and early 40’s.

Peter Fonda tweets that Barron Trump should be torn from his mother and locked in a cage with pedophiles. Then Pat Dussault, a Canadian writer who seems to work in Hollywood (he does comedy, what else?), makes a threat on Twitter against Donald Jr’s infant child, Chloe. James Woods bless him, steps right up and informs the Secret Service of the threat. Whether it was intended as a sick joke, Woods did the right thing. Of course, Dussault quickly retreated and made a mealy-mouthed apology. Apparently even Peter Fonda apologized.

In Washington, a frickin’ DOJ employee named Allison Hrabar was part of a group of Socialist protesters that loudly harassed Kirstjen Nielsen at a DC restaurant. Hrabar’s apparently a para-legal specialist who insists there’s some sort of invisible firewall between her work as a government employee and her rantings at a restaurant where another diner had tipped off the group that Nielsen had had the temerity to try and enjoy a quiet meal, like anyone else. Here’s what Hrabar said to the Washington Examiner:

If you see these people in public, you should remind them that they shouldn’t have peace. We aren’t the only ones who can do this. Anyone who sees Kirstjen Nielsen at dinner, anyone who sees anyone who works at DHS and ICE at dinner can confront them like this, and that’s what we hope this will inspire people to do.

And then at 9 AM next morning Allison’s just another DC bureaucrat doing her job as a responsible professional – as Michael Hayden might remind us, his hands folded piously in front of his pursed lips.

Should we be surprised that there is an overwhelming bias against this administration among DC bureaucrats and Hollywood writers, actors, producers etc.? Yes, the separation of children from their parents was a blunder. And Trump even seems to enjoy some of these confrontations, if perhaps not the images of kids wailing in detention centers. But these threats have been lying there latent or explicit since he arrived at the White House. His mistaken policy was the perfect excuse to unleash them for people already consumed by hostility or even hate.

And over in Philadelphia, a lawmaker who happens to be gay got ugly and personal with Vice President Pence as well as Christianity and the Bible, in a profane tweet “welcoming” him to the city of brotherly love. State Representative Brian Sims – impeccably attired with a trim beard of course – flipped the bird and added a few choice words to one of the more courteous people in DC. Why? Because Pence is a practicing Christian.

Culture wars are out in the open and raging. The enforcers of progressive authoritarianism are exactly who you’d suspect. And someday soon, someone is going to go full metal jacket and I mean from the progressive side. In fact, someone already did, last year at a Congressional GOP baseball practice. Or have you forgotten already?

Stephen Miller was of course a trusted aide of then-Senator Sessions before he moved to Trump’s team in early 2016. And hardline views on illegals were something he, Senator Sessions, and Candidate Trump agreed on wholeheartedly. So, it’s hardly a surprise that Miller seems to be taking credit for the zero-tolerance enforcement policy that went into effect this April and which apparently has resulted in heart-breaking scenes of young children taken from their parents.

If you listen to AG Sessions, this zero-tolerance application of the law is a good in and of itself and is so because of moral reasons. Quoting Romans 13 – the 13th chapter of Paul the Apostle’s letter to the Romans – Sessions stated:

I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.

In other words, it is righteous to obey the law because laws ultimately flow from God’s authority. This has, of course, unleashed a flood of criticism from both sides of the aisle and from Presidents past and even their wives. And even some cautious criticism from within the White House, on the part of people like Kellyanne Conway. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has voiced concerns of children “exposed to irreparable harm and trauma” and the Southern Baptists Convention has called for family unity to be a priority of urgently needed immigration reform.

At National Review, Dan McLaughlin, a Catholic, delves into Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and links chapter 12’s ending to the beginning of chapter 13 to underscore the limits of Christian submission to earthly authority.

The problem is, to President Trump the separation of children from their parents when they cross the border between the official border crossings (at the actual border crossings you reportedly can ask for asylum and you will not have your children separated from you as your request is processed) is not a moral problem, but rather a tactical weapon to force Democrats to bargain with the White House and pay up for a border wall and further measures to tighten enforcement.

This is classic Trump double-down and hit back harder tactics. Will it work this time?

It may resonate with some of his base, but it seems he has picked the wrong target – young, helpless children – to try and gain leverage for his goal of greater border enforcement. While crimes committed by illegals that have been released back into the community, or that have been deported and have returned multiple times, are stories that tend to gain support with many conservatives, populists, and some independents, screaming and terrified children do not fit that bill.

This is a godsend to Democrats, and a bit of a nightmare for Republicans. One assumes that this story will dominate – which Trump doesn’t seem to mind at all – and one assumes that polling will not be favorable to the President. But there’s another factor at play, just as in the case of the DACA deadline back in March that suddenly became irrelevant, and that’s because of the courts.

Will a lawsuit produce an injunction ordering the White House to undo its executive order (whether there was an actual order or not) that started requiring zero-tolerance application of the laws? Or is Nancy Pelosi busy on the phone begging her pals on the Ninth Circuit, and is Senator Schumer pleading to any other Circuit that will listen to him, to please NOT rule on this for at least a few months until mid-terms are almost upon us?

Of course, Congress could rewrite immigration laws and the Senate could gather across the aisle to pull together enough votes to make their immigration reform law veto-proof. Which is kind of what the Constitution suggests should happen. Unfortunately, with politicians focused on getting re-elected, it seems much more likely this will end up very quickly in the courts. The question is, what will this issue do the GOP? Good luck with the vote on the two immigration bills. Speaker Ryan’s work has been blown up real good by the President.

But that, in the end, is the point. Immigration is a very divisive issue for America, and only the GOP is really showing both sides of that debate. The Democratic party, on the other hand, has long settled on one side of the immigration debate. Will this still be an issue by Labor Day? It very well could be, despite the unending roller-coaster ride through one issue after another with this administration.

Or will Trump somehow turn pictures of wailing and helpless kids, separated from their parents by uniformed officials, to his advantage? A ridiculous possibility. But not impossible.

Your Ship Has Just Come In

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Why is it that a country’s most famous ships seem to take on a personality of their own, as if they are living, breathing entities like movie stars, athletes or entertainers? There’s no question that this is true. Everyone, no matter what their age, demographic group or generational category, can name ships that are noteworthy to them. They may be military naval vessels, they may be private/commercial yachts or boats, but everyone has their favorites.

There have been a lot of famous ships through the years, from a lot of countries. For this discussion, we’re going to limit it to American vessels.  (That means no Titanic, no Bismarck, no Yamato, no Queen Elizabeth. Sorry.) In no particular order, here are some that come to mind:

Maine

A late-1890’s battleship, the Maine was assigned to protect American interests in Cuba during its war of independence from Spain. Three weeks after its arrival in Havana, the Maine was wracked by a tremendous explosion on the night of February 15, 1898 and quickly sank, claiming the life of 260 of its crew of 374. No definitive cause for the explosion was ever determined, but the initial theory of an external mine has been generally discounted in favor of an accidental internal fire that subsequently ignited the ships armament magazines.

The sinking itself and the hyperbolic press coverage of the event was the cause of considerable American political bellicosity towards Spain, serving as a major catalyst of the Spanish-American war later in 1898. The sinking gave rise to the famous saying, “Remember the Maine!”

Constitution

Perhaps the most acclaimed U.S. Navy warship of all time, the U.S.S. Constitution was a 44-gun 3-masted frigate, used by the American Navy in the War of 1812 against Britain. She is best known for her dramatic victories in several one-on-one confrontations with major British warships. In one of these battles (against the British Frigate HMS Guerriere), cannon fire from the enemy ship supposedly bounced harmlessly off the thick, sturdy oak sides of the Constitution’s hull, causing its crew members to exclaim, “The hull must be made of iron!” Hence, perhaps the most famous nickname in all of naval history—“Old Ironsides”—was born.

Arizona

A Pennsylvania-class battleship completed and commissioned in 1916, the Arizona was larger and more powerful than the Nevada-class ships that preceded her. Even though Arizona was fully active two years before WWI ended in 1918, it saw no action in that war, serving mostly in training duties. After WWI, the Arizona played a prominent role in diplomatic service, showing off American sea power in missions around the world. A major modernization took place between 1931 and 1941, which included more powerful engines and some rudimentary anti-aircraft gunnery.  The lack of effective anti-aircraft defense—common to all warships in the late 1930’s/early 1940’s, not just Arizona—would prove disastrous during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In Japan’s December 7th, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, several Japanese warplanes broke through the American defensive airspace around Arizona and scored numerous bomb hits on the ship. One of these penetrated the forward deck and exploded below in the ship’s magazine, causing a massive, catastrophic explosion that tore the ship in two. Arizona sank quickly, with the loss of 1177 U.S sailors, the largest single source of the more than 2300 U.S. personnel lost in the attack. A permanent memorial was built in Pearl Harbor over the sunken remains of the ship. Amazingly, the Arizona itself still leaks two quarts of oil a day into the harbors waters.

Missouri

Entering service with the US Navy in the latter stages of WWII in 1944, the Missouri was the most advanced battleship to see service with the Navy. Compared to the Arizona, the Missouri was an entirely different caliber of ship—far larger, faster and with incomparably more advanced weaponry. It represented the most modern thinking in battleship design. Despite its impressive battle record in the closing stages of the war, the Missouri is probably best known for being the site of the official signing ceremony of Japan’s surrender to the United States on September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of WWII to an official close.

After participating in combat operations during the Korean conflict from 1950-1953, Missouri was decommissioned in 1955, the battleship having been supplanted by the aircraft carrier and nuclear submarine as the primary offensive weapons of the Navy.

However, in the late 1980’s Missouri was modernized and re-commissioned and took active part in shore bombardments during the 1991 Gulf War, firing several hundred rounds of 16-in shells. The ship was finally decommissioned for good in 1992, after an active combat career spanning nearly a half-century.

Missouri was also featured prominently in two high-profile movies: 1992’s Under Siege with Steven Seagal and the 2012 science fiction thriller Battleship. Known by the nicknames Mighty Mo and Big Mo, the Missouri is unquestionably one the most famous American ships ever.

Nautilus

The name “Nautilus” has graced at least two famous ships. One was the fictitious submarine in Jules Verne’s 1870 novel “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” in which the book’s main character, Captain Nemo, leads the submarine Nautilus on a series of scientific adventures and battles against giant sea creatures. The book quite accurately describes and depicts the modern submarine, decades before such vessels became a reality.

Although the submarine played a major role in both WWI and WWII, the basic technology of submarines was largely unchanged from 1914-to the early 1950’s: small ships with narrow hulls, diesel engines for running on the surface and electric engines with rechargeable power supplies for limited-time operation when fully submerged. Not only were the electric engines severely restricted in their below-surface operating time, the breathable air inside the submarine was also a limiting factor in the submarine’s underwater effectiveness. Unless those limitations could be overcome, the submarine’s potential impact would always be limited to a certain level.

In 1954, those limitations were shattered forever with the advent of the U.S.S Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. Free of needing oxygen or petroleum-based fuel for its propulsion, the Nautilus could spend a nearly unlimited amount of time fully submerged, and power from the nuclear reactor drove on-board air- and water-purification systems as well. For the first time, submarines could roam the oceans at will, virtually undetected, for almost unlimited periods of time. As Jules Verne’s Nautilus ushered in a new era of thinking about undersea vessels, so the U.S.S. Nautilus changed forever the importance and impact the submarine had on the balance of world power.

Enterprise

Although many U.S. Navy ships have carried the name Enterprise, the one we’re talking about here is the WWII aircraft carrier. Completed and commissioned before America entered the war in 1941, Enterprise participated in every major Pacific action and earned more battle stars—20—than any other U.S. ship. Probably her most famous action occurred during the pivotal Battle of Midway, in which her aircraft were directly responsible for the sinking of three Japanese carriers. Known by the nickname “The Big E,” she was also called “The Gray Ghost,” since the Japanese mistakenly thought they’d sunk her on several occasions, only to find out the hard way that she was still very much alive.

Tough, versatile and resilient, the Big E’s impressive accomplishments epitomized America’s successful carrier-oriented naval strategy in the Pacific in WWII.

There have been other notable ships named Enterprise: 1961 saw the debut of the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, named Enterprise as a fitting tribute to the famed battle veteran of WWII. And there is the well-known fictional Starship Enterprise of Star Trek fame. But it is the WWII aircraft carrier Enterprise for whom the spot on this list is most deservedly held.

Whether real or imagined, military or commercial, large or small, famous ships through the years hold an unshakable place in our collective consciousness, evoking a fascinating mixture of pride, respect and amusement.

No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.

“It” being Trump winning the election. The speaker, or more accurately, the person texting those words being FBI agent Peter Strzok.

What do you think he meant by that? According to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Agent Strzok assured them that he did not mean by those words that he would do anything to impact the election. So apparently, Strzok is signaled out for potential bias, but not for actively undermining – or more accurately displaying a willful intent to undermine – an election campaign to ensure that candidate Trump would not be elected president.

Give me a break. What the hell else do those words possibly mean?

No he won’t. We’ll stop it.

Comey on the other hand, comes in for harsher criticism. He was, according to the report, “insubordinate” for the way he handled the Hillary email investigation. Ok, while this report is just out and will have to be parsed further, it seems Comey is being criticized for a “serious lack of judgement” for sending his October 28th letter about re-opening the Hillary probe as a result of the emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop that came from his estranged wife – Huma Abedin – one assumes. And for not consulting with the DOJ when he closed the Hillary investigation just before the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2016.

Let’s see, could the difference in how Strzok’s actions are handled in the IG’s report compared to Comey’s, have to do with the fact that Strzok still works at the FBI while Comey obviously doesn’t? And that Horowitz’s main objective is to somehow preserve what remains of the FBI and the DOJ’s reputations as trustworthy institutions?

In other words, Horowitz is already behaving in a manner reminiscent of the man who appointed him, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, where he is trying to balance conflicting interests all in the name of institutional reputations. So, Comey is left standing alone while Strzok gets a little more cover. Interesting to note that on Thursday morning, just before Horowitz’s report was released, John Podesta – who ran Hillary’s failed campaign – lashed out yet again at Comey, essentially blaming him once more for Hillary’s loss.

Does the IG report set up Comey as the fall guy? The narcissistic and self-righteous Director who thinks of himself as an avenging angel but who’s seen as a political klutz by Hillary’s team, and on the other hand, as a traitor by Trump’s team? The unsettling thing is that the FBI Director is now a highly politicized position, like it or not. That means any FBI Director is more likely to be partisan, given that Comey’s actions can best be explained by political calculations he made before taking those three vital decisions of 2016: not to prosecute Hillary, and then to release the October letter and then keep to his original not-guilty assessment of Hillary and her private server. Something that Horowitz also does in this report.

This is reading the tea leaves, if clumsily, before making any major move as FBI Director. Should we be surprised? Look at ex-CIA head Brennan. He’s turned into a less profane version of Rick Wilson since he stepped down as CIA chief. Astonishingly partisan rants about Trump have become standard fare for him. Bureaucrats – especially the top ones perhaps – are as partisan as any voter in America, whatever their technical qualifications for the highly-paid and influential jobs they hold. And this is what both Rosenstein and Horowitz are desperate to tamp down on. Like Michael Hayden’s dismissive sarcasm of his interviewer’s mentioning of the Deep State. They all have to toe the party line to make sure their constituency does not lose power and prestige. The administrative state – especially it’s intel branch – must be protected by the wise!

IG Horowitz is more than likely just one more voice in this chorus.

They wailed at the possibility of warfare when Kim jong-un was launching missiles and President Trump was warning about the fire and fury of a nuclear attack by America. Now they’re sneering at some of Trump’s quotes that came out of the Singapore Summit. And it’s rather easy to single out a few quotes by the president to find something absurd or provocative, or narcissistic.

But the right question to ask is if the summit itself was absurd, or instead a first step towards some comprehensive-enough peace plan for the peninsula. Everybody wants to make this about Trump. Including – perhaps especially – the president himself.

It isn’t however.

It might have taken an iconoclast (we shouldn’t be so high-minded as not to use the term with the president, because it’s a surprisingly fitting description for him) like President Trump to actually produce a meeting with Kim, or perhaps to respond to Kim’s combination of threats and promises with his own bundle of threats and promises, and thereby come up with the 2 men smiling and strolling in Singapore’s manicured tropical elegance. Trump hates the foreign policy establishment and they consider him unworthy of the Oval Office. So it must have been a particularly poignant pleasure for him to have managed to pull off this meeting.

So what?

This is the point  – as Byron York recently pointed out in the Washington Examiner. Nothing else has worked to detain the DPRK’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and then the missiles needed to turn them into true bargaining chips. Several generations of American presidents have been helpless to do anything other than protect South Korea from an invasion by the North. While the DPRK has terrorized its own people, kidnapped Japanese and South Koreans, tortured American soldiers and sailors, and threatened the peace and stability of East Asia.

What do you do?

Invoke a full-scale war that threatens to draw in China – and even Russia – in order to wipe the Kim family from the face of the earth as well as thousands or hundreds of thousands of Koreans both from the North and South? Give in to North Korea and treat it as a nuclear power in order to sign a deal that leaves South Korea without the guarantees that have kept it (mostly) free and capitalist? Or threaten the first option in order to avoid having to deal with the second option?

By the time Reagan sat down with Gorbachev, Stalin had been dead for over 30 years. The horrors of his purges, the millions starved to death, the show trials, the Siberian concentration camps, were a generation or two (mostly) back in history. Unfortunately, we don’t have that evolution with North Korea. We do have the same economic pressure – the cost of the DPRK’s armed forces and nuclear programs have been bankrupting the nation and are likely the main reason Kim was willing to meet with Trump. But a torturer is still running the country.

Do you deal with him?

In an astonishing gamble, Trump has made his move. Korea, North and South, deserves peace. But it will have to be a peace with Kim Jong-un still running half the peninsula. That could mean a turning away from a small-l liberal global order willing to send Americans to their death in the name of nation-building in feudal countries like Afghanistan, and towards something that looks more like the Great Powers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Does the current state of the world invite this sort of gamble? That’s hard to tell.

The global order is still very much in place. But President Trump is turning his back on them and turning towards China and potentially Russia, despite the rather strong actions on the ground – both financial and military – that America has taken towards the Kremlin under Trump’s administration. Is it goodbye little Justin Trudeau and hello little Kim?

Or is this just a brief break from the world order in order to try and solve the Korean question?

Some North Korean Summit Advice for President Trump

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

The long-anticipated, on-again/off-again/on-again summit with North Korea is fast approaching, this coming Tuesday, June 12th, in Singapore. Here, President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea will sit down and see if they can actually come to some agreement regarding the nuclear weapons status of the North. Past administrations, from Clinton to Bush to Obama have utterly failed to halt—or even slow—the North’s efforts at developing nuclear weapons. The prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of an unpredictable, unstable regime like Kim Jong-un’s will radically change the balance of power in the Pacific Rim and it has worldwide implications, since cash-strapped North Korea is likely to sell their nuclear technology to rogue nations across the globe.

Past efforts at curbing other nations’ nuclear ambitions have proven vexing indeed. Pakistan and India have them, Iran is very close (mostly because of the amateurish and insincere efforts of the Obama administration) and Israel has them. Saudi Arabia is thought to have the technical wherewithal, should they begin development, as does Japan. Since 1945, keeping global nuclear ambitions under control is indeed like a genie that is frustratingly reluctant to stay in his bottle.

Current-day Democrats have consistently shown little real interest in international or national security issues, except as those issues impact and affect their political fortunes. The Pelosi’s, Waters and Schumers of the world are not really concerned about North Korea’s or Iran’s nuclear ambitions or illegal immigration, unless they can somehow leverage those issues into making Republicans look bad and thus bolster their own electoral fortunes.

So it is now with Kim Jong-un and the Singapore summit. All of a sudden, Senate Democrats—after complete silence on the matter—have issued a “checklist” of requirements and demands for President Trump to accomplish at the summit. It’s such a transparent political ploy: Fabricate arbitrary, difficult-to-achieve, difficult-to-verify “goals,” and then when (in their view, in the immediate aftermath of the summit) their “goals” haven’t been met, issue a very public “Aha! He failed!” statement.

The Democrats issuing a checklist for the North Korean summit is laughable–like the Democrats actually care about national security, N. Korea or anything along those lines at all. With each succeeding Democratic administration since Kennedy in 1960—LBJ, Carter, Clinton, Obama—the Democratic Party has oriented more and more of its policy objectives towards domestic issues, with an ever-increasing emphasis on pure electoral success, abject media manipulation and demonizing their political opposition. Considering the Obama administration’s near-total shunning of international considerations—from abandoning American personnel at Benghazi to declaring the war on terrorism is “over,” to allowing Russia to simply annex part of the Ukraine without penalty to failing to keep Assad accountable for stepping over the ‘red line,’ to undercutting Israel at every turn to gifting $150 billion to Iran while allowing them to keep their nuclear program—modern-day Democrats have summarily rejected national security/foreign policy issues in favor of concentrating on domestic identity politics: Identify a special interest “victim” group (blacks, women, LGBT, Hispanics, environmentalists, etc.), then craft a tax-funded Government policy to solve their problem (in other words, buy their votes), all the while enlisting the liberal mainstream media to do their bidding for them. That is the modus operandi of today’s Democratic Party.

Now, all of a sudden, we’re to believe that Chuck Schumer and his cohorts suddenly have a deep and abiding interest in the national security interests of the United States and its foreign policy strategy? This is so transparent it’s even obvious to the most casual observers: The Democrats simply want to set a political “Gotcha!” trap for President Trump, while keeping themselves perfectly inoculated from any judgment or accountability themselves. So they produce a highly-publicized, serious-sounding letter. Quite clever on their part.

Here’s what President Trump should do: He should take Senator Schumer along with him to the summit. He should very publicly state that he appreciates Schumer’s obvious expertise and deep, thoughtful analysis of the situation and he’d welcome his invaluable assistance in the negotiations.

It’s a win-win for Trump: If Schumer is there and the negotiations fail to achieve any meaningful results, Schumer doesn’t get to criticize from afar, unaccountable, since he was there and part of the process. Part of whatever blame is assigned will be his and the Democrats’.

If the summit is a smashing success, then Trump gets to thank Schumer for his help, he gets to say that America has achieved a great thing for global peace and stability by coming together, Republicans and Democrats, and showing the world what can be accomplished when “We reach across the aisle in pursuit of goals bigger than small-time partisan politics.”

Regardless of the outcome, if Schumer is there, Trump wins.

There would be few things in life more priceless than the expression on Chuck Schumer’s face as he boards the plane for Singapore.